Worst Division Ever: Exactly How Bad Is The 2020 NFC East?
There is only one division in the National Football League in which all four teams have won at least one Super Bowl. That would be the NFC East. The 2020 version of the division could set a new record for something completely different.
Through 12 weeks of the 2020 NFL season, the New York Giants lead the division with a 4-7 record. There is a scenario in which the NFC East could send a four-win team to the postseason. Yes, it could happen. It’s fair to say the NFC East just isn’t what it used to be.
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Some of the NFL’s greatest rivalries involve teams from the NFC East. The Washington – New York Giants rivalry is one. The Giants, who defeated Washington twice this season, own a 105-69-4 margin in the series.
Dallas Cowboys – Philadelphia Eagles is another. The Cowboys own a 69-54 record against the Eagles, a team they beat 11 straight times from 1967 to 1972. Fans of the NFL also recognize the Dallas – Washington rivalry as significant. The Cowboys, who lost both games to Washington this season, still lead the series 73-47-2.
The NFC East is home to some of the biggest rivalries in the NFL
Individually, each of these matchups is among the NFL’s stronger rivalries but the 2020 version of these games is not so much about bragging rights. It’s simply a chance for one bad team to get a “W” against another. The division has a grand total of 14 wins through 12 weeks of the 2020 season. Nine of those 14 victories are against division opponents.
In other words, the NFC East as a whole has won just five games outside of the division. To make things worse, two of those wins are against the 2-8-1 Cincinnati Bengals.
2014 NFC South
While the 2020 NFC East is indisputably dreadful, there is some historical precedent and you don’t have to go back that far in NFL history to find it. In 2014, the NFC South was particularly and similarly awful.
Through the first 12 weeks of the 2014 NFL season, the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons were tied for the division lead. Guess what their records were? Yes, that’s right … 4-7. Carolina followed in third place at 3-7-1 and Tampa Bay was last with a 2-9 record.
Coincidentally (or not?) two men that were part of the NFC South’s disastrous 2014 season are also a part of the 2020 NFC East picture. Washington head coach Ron Rivera was the head coach of the Panthers in 2014 and Giants general manager Dave Gettleman served in the same role in Carolina back then.
As it turned out, Tampa Bay didn’t win another game and wound up 2-14. Atlanta won just two more games and finished third at 6-10. New Orleans ended the season 7-9 Carolina, which tied Cincinnati 37-37 in overtime in Week 6, wound up winning the division with a record of 7-8-1.
For the record, Carolina actually won its wild card game and a year later played in the Super Bowl. The only other team to make the postseason with a losing record (minus the strike-shortened 1982 season) was Seattle. The Seahawks went 7-9 in 2010 and made the playoffs.
Five Games Remaining
It is almost a certainty that one of these teams from the NFC East is going to make history but not the kind they want. Instead, the title of worst team to ever make the postseason is the prize at stake. Each team has five games left. Philadelphia and Dallas each have two division games remaining. The Giants and Washington have only one division game each remaining.
With just five games left the record for worst division winner seems inevitable
The Giants, who currently lead the division, have the most unfortunate remaining schedule. New York must travel to Seattle (8-3), face Arizona (6-5), host Cleveland (8-3), go to Baltimore (6-4), and then might get a season-ending win against Dallas at home. To add to their problems, there is the status of starting QB Daniel Jones who is going to miss some time. That means Colt McCoy takes over at quarterback for the Giants key games.
Washington, also 4-7, have road games at Pittsburgh (10-0), San Francisco (5-6), and Philadelphia. They get Seattle and Carolina (4-8) at home. With Alex Smith taking over at quarterback and the rise of RB Antonio Gibson, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think they win two of their last five. That would leave them at 6-10.
Philadelphia and Dallas – both of whom were train wrecks in Week 12 – might be able to overtake their rivals who are tied for first place right now. They play each other in Dallas in Week 16. Dallas plays at the Giants in Week 17 while the Eagles host Washington.
Both teams’ other games are difficult. Philly gets Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona. The Packers and Saints are division leaders. Dallas has to play at Baltimore but gets Cincinnati and San Francisco.
Worst Winner Record Likely
No matter how you look at it, New York or Washington winning four of five games to finish at .500 doesn’t appear likely. Moreover, Dallas or Philadelphia winning all five of their remaining games to finish .500 or better in Philly’s case seems even less likely. What is highly likely is the NFC East setting a record for the worst division winner in NFL history.